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Fresno Judge, R.L. "Chip" Putnam Retiring

Friday, December 15, 2006

He's spent almost two decades on the bench and presided over some of Fresno County's most notorious cases. Now, Judge R.L. Putnam is retiring, but he will still have his place at the courthouse.

He remembers his first day on the bench vividly. Judge Putnam says, "It was a misdemeanor calendar, and we had like 100 cases on calendar, and that was my first day on the job and we somehow got through it."

Judge R.L. "Chip" Putnam has seen how the law works from all sides of the courtroom, as a public defender, a prosecutor, and a judge. He's proud of his work in juvenile court. He says, "I enjoyed helping those kids and starting a number of programs that got going and are still in effect."

Putnam oversaw many high profile court cases, including handing down a life sentence to the man convicted of killing Ara Arax, a murder that went unsolved for nearly 30 years.

The judge also presided over the Janet Amerson case, the fresno mother convicted of shooting her daughter. Putnam later ordered the woman a new trial, after learning statements to police were accidentally allowed as evidence and she was eventually sentenced to probation. But, Putnam is probably best known for handling the Marcus Wesson mass murder case. He says, "I think it was a very challenging case. I had a number of them that came up to that."

The 60 year old won't disappear completely from the courthouse after he retires as he will fill in on cases, when needed. But for now, he'll hang up his robe and hang on to his memories saying, "It's been a real honor for me to be a judge. As you know, I was elected by the public and I hope I served the public well."

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